On Monday Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt convened an extraordinary meeting of the Presidential Advisory Committee for COP25, with the aim of socializing the idea of connecting the summit with the demands of citizens, understanding that environmental justice is a step necessary to move towards equity. Although the idea of making the appointment so far remains – and so the environmental NGOs also look for it -, a probable scenario is that it is concentrated in the technical discussion of the pending aspects of the Paris Agreement, far from the media exposure that the government maintained until now. In parallel, the Civil Society for Climate Action asked to suspend the public consultation of the proposal to update the NDC in the face of the social scenario in Chile.
At 10 am yesterday, at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) in Vitacura, Environment Minister, Carolina Schmidt, met with the Presidential Advisory Council for COP25 for the first time since the outbreak of the social mobilizations. The objective of the call, it was pointed out, was to find a way to connect the summit with the demands of the citizens after the “strong shaking” that has been felt in the country and under the premise that sustainable development is an essential requirement to advance in equity and social justice.
This is the first sign of a turn in the story that the government has faced until now, the realization of this climate summit, aimed at showing Chile’s leadership in sustainable development, and that also arises when they are heard several voices asking that the appointment of this appointment be canceled in Santiago. First it was the French parliamentarian Alexis Corbière, who asked the French Foreign Minister not to participate in the COP25 to be held in Santiago. In Chile, chilean parliamentarians Ximena Rincón and José Antonio Kast followed, among others.
However, although not flatly, the signals that the government has given so far are that the organization of the appointment is maintained. This was said on October 24 by Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera, who said that “we continue with the planning of both summits (COP and APEC), logically adapting to the circumstances.” The next day, the United Nations Office for Climate Change (UNFCCC) said that “it has received guarantees that the Chilean government has taken measures to restore order in Santiago and other parts of the country,” so “We continue with our planning for COP25, with safety and protection for all participants as a top priority. ”
However, while tensions in the country have diminished, it is far from a restoration of order. Yesterday, after the change of cabinet made by the government, protests continued in Santiago and other regions. But although voices arise asking for the appointment to be moved, environmental organizations point in the opposite direction: to remain in the country.
“COP25 should not be suspended. It is a tool, although limited, the best we have today at the level of international treaties for climate control. COP25 is very good for us as part of a reparatory process, what needs to be done is to do it well and not as part of a media show.”, Greenpeace director Matías Asun told Cooperativa radio on Sunday.
Invitation to environmental organizations
And this was precisely what was collected yesterday at the meeting convened by Minister Schmidt: the need to turn towards environmental justice. “We talked about the fact that some of the most powerful social injustices that exist are the effects of climate change, which activate inequalities in a profound way. It is part of the social agenda, not doing it in Chile makes no sense, it is justified much more than before. I proposed that COP25 have a new strategic pillar, environmental justice, and we were all on the same line. Here is a new objective and we have to take it urgently, this is probably going to be the subject of COP”, said deputy Sebastián Torrealba, one of the advisory council members present at the meeting.
Along these lines, the government invited representatives of social organizations to this extraordinary meeting called by Minister Schmidt. Among them, actors such as the president of the guild of basic recyclers, Soledad Mella, and Alejandra Mustakis, president of the Association of Entrepreneurs of Chile. From the environmental world, among those summoned were Matías Asun, the executive director of FIMA Ezio Costa, and the executive director of Sustainable Chile, Sara Larraín.
These last three NGOs are part of the Civil Society for Climate Action (SCAC), a new platform that brings together more than 130 organizations from the environmental world, territorial movements, professional associations, unions, political and academic organizations, which among its goals is the Organization of a Social Summit for Climate Action. Together, as part of SCAC, they decided to decline the invitation after consulting with the organization’s assembly.
Although the reasons behind the decision have not been explained, the message that was transmitted to the government was that for them the realization of the COP25 in Chile is extremely relevant, mainly because it is a space for visibility of the country’s environmental problems and where the future of the planet is debated. In return, they offered to make arrangements for COP25 to remain in the country, but provided there is a scenario of respect for Human Rights.
A signal in this regard may have been a Twitt Minister Carolina Schmidt made after the meeting in ECLAC: “Today, together in ECLAC, with representatives of civil society we made a minute of silence for those killed in the social crisis. In Chile, no violation of human rights is tolerated. ALL complaints will be duly investigated and sanctioned accordingly. Strong and clear”.
On what foot is the COP in Chile?
Regarding what will happen with the implementation of the COP in Chile, the signals have not been overwhelming either from the government or from the United Nations. Nor to the negotiating team in Chile, although signals have been transmitted that it is a complex moment that should be exceeded by the date of the summit, which begins on December 2. In six weeks.
For now, the members of the negotiating team of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues with the planning of their trips, which these days have a round of talks with the countries of North Africa – particularly Egypt, an important actor in negotiations for the Article 6- and then continue to Bonn. That equipment would continue to function without altering its original design.
Regarding the realization of the event itself, so far there are no signs of change, although some actors in the negotiations point out that rumors have arisen about the possibility of holding the summit at the headquarters of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is based in Songdo, South Korea. For now, it is just a rumor, without any confirmation or official voice pointing in that direction.
In a worst case scenario, if it were decided to change headquarters, Chile will maintain the presidency of COP25, which it will also maintain during the next year, so it continues with the role of leading the negotiations that take place at the summit. That is why the negotiation agenda is still standing and without variations.
What could vary, say those who closely follow the issue, is the tone and scope. The more technical negotiation of the Conference of the Parties will remain unchanged, with the aim of delivering Article 6 and moving forward with the implementation of the Paris Agreement for the next COP, in which the new national commitments (NDC) must be delivered of the countries signing the agreement.
They could also change the national policies that were being sought to be implemented, the possible agreements and parallel negotiations that the country could have reached, as well as the greater ambition that was sought to be projected from the presidency of Chile at COP25. It would also be a less crowded summit, as the negotiating teams do not exceed 2000 people, much less than the more than 20 thousand that – at least – were expected for this appointment.
From abroad, questions about Chile show concern about the climate of turmoil in the country, and the impact on transport systems, which would be leading to hotel cancellations and platforms such as Airbnb. Although the climatic summits are always surrounded by citizen demonstrations, one of the concerns is that in the current scenario, this would exceed what normally happens around the discussions of the negotiating teams and national authorities.
Another aspect that could be affected is the discussion by the National Determined Contribution (NDC) of Chile, the country commitment to climate actions, currently in public consultation, after being presented by the government two weeks ago.
In fact, on October 25, the Civil Society for Climate Action (SCAC) formally requested the Ministry of the Environment to suspend the period stipulated for the consultation, “considering the situation of agitation that the country is going through.” A measure similar to that already applied by the Superintendence of the Environment and the Environmental Assessment Service with their respective administrative procedures.